Today the Telegraph (via Memeorandum) makes note of Obama's "cool detachment," explaining that during the campaign that was seen as a good thing, but now, not so much. Through a series of examples, Toby Harmden makes the case that Obama is "bloodless."
The most notable example is Obama's reaction to the Fort Hood massacre, calling his reaction a "strange disconnectedness":
Maybe Mr Obama had been reading the American press, much of which somehow contrived to present the atrocity as a result of combat stress due to soldiers going on repeated war deployments (though Major Nadal Hasan had not been on any) and therefore, no doubt, Mr Bush's fault.
Of course it's all Bush's fault; isn't everything? Those Democrats voting FOR the Stupak amendment? Probably Bush's fault. Those voting AGAINST HR3962? Bush's fault. It's only a matter of time.
More from the Telegraph:
When the television networks cut to the President, viewers listened to him spend more than two surreal minutes talking to a gathering of Native Americans about their "extraordinary" and "extremely productive" conference, pausing to give a cheery "shout out" to a man named Dr Joe Medicine Crow. Only then did he briefly and mechanically address what had happened in Texas.
On Friday, when most of the basic facts were available, Mr Obama tried again. It was scarcely any better. He began by offering "an update on the tragedy that took place" - as if it was an earthquake and not a terrorist attack from an enemy within - and ended with a promise for more "updates in the coming days and weeks".
Completely missing was the eloquence that Mr Obama employs when talking about himself. Absent too was any sense that the President empathised [sic] with the families and comrades of those murdered.Not to delve into psychobabble, but doesn't all this display serious signs of narcissism?
And what's wrong with being cool and detached, anyway, you might ask. It seems to me that in a president, we appreciate those that are human, and that empathize with us. If he can't seem to get on the same plane as the common people, how can he lead or represent us? He becomes imperial and monarchist, even. Removed.
Bush caught criticism when, immediately learning of the World Trade Center attacks, he continued reading to the small schoolchildren for a few minutes before he made his necessary exit. I never thought that criticism was fair. Who could fathom, much less immediately process, such an act? And would scaring the beejezus out of those kids have helped anything?
There was no doubt about the emotion Bush felt in the following days; the tear in his eye and the emotion in his voice. Similarly, with Ronald Reagan, you always knew how he felt. Happy, elated, sad, you always knew. Not that it's appropriate all the time; nobody wants a sobbing, emotional leader in charge of the free world. Control, we want. Coldness, not so much.
Back to Fort Hood, Obama has drawn criticism for his retreat to Camp David this weekend rather than a visit to Fort Hood. He hasn't ventured to the base at all as of yet. Yet on Friday, very quietly, George and Laura Bush went to visit the wounded and the traumatized. They spent two hours at the base offering whatever support they could. They asked for no press.
In 1987, after the attack on the USS Stark, there was no question how Ronald Reagan felt. You could tell by his face and by his remarks:
I have an announcement here that I would like to make that is aimed directly at you of the press. I know and I share the sense of concern and anger that Americans feel over the yesterday's tragedy in the Persian Gulf. We have protested this attack in the strongest terms and are investigating the circumstances of the incident. When our investigation of the facts is completed, I will report to the American people about this matter and any further steps that are warranted. For that reason I have convened a meeting of the National Security Planning Group to review the entire situation in the Persian Gulf.
In the meanwhile, I want to express my deepest sympathies to the families of the brave men killed and injured yesterday aboard the U.S.S. Stark. Their loss and suffering will not be in vain. The mission of the men of the U.S.S. Stark, safeguarding the interests of the United States and the free world in the Gulf, remains crucial to our national security and to the security of our friends throughout the world. The hazards to our men and women in uniform in the defense of freedom can never be understated. The officers and crew of the U.S.S. Stark deserve our highest admiration and appreciation. And I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain for their prompt assistance in responding to the stricken U.S.S. Stark.
No "shout outs" in that speech. Additionally, he made it a point to meet with family members of the victims.
Obviously, wherever the president goes, there is fuss. Obama could claim that he didn't want to create more of a scene at the base than what is already ongoing at Fort Hood, but it seems to me if he can drop in and out of Afghanistan or Iraq in secret, he could go to Fort Hood.
Not that he gives a damn, but Obama would do well to show the American people that he cares about them, whether he does or not.